Paddle Ukulele

Difficulty:  Intermediate

Cost:  $-$$ (Depending on the cost of the paddle)   

This project didn’t take a long time, but it turned out to be a really fun instrument.  A friend gave me a child sized paddle that was 30 inches long.  I decided to give it a 21 inch scale with 15 frets.  If you have never made a custom scale fretboard, this fret calculator tutorial  will help you get started. I used a zero fret  as the nut.

I glued a wooden bowl on the back of the paddle to act as a resonator.  I got the wooden bowl from a second hand store.  With a forstner bit and a drill press, I made a flat area for the bowl on the back of the paddle.  The soundhole was made with a 1.75 inch forstner bit.

String holes were drilled at 45 degrees through the headstock behind the zero fret.  Having the four string holes at the desired string spacing, along with the zero fret eliminated the need for a traditional nut.

For my paddle I needed to flatten out the handle headstock before I installed the outside down tuners.  On the bottom end of the paddle I drilled four holes for the strings. When I strung up this ukulele I tied knots in the strings and feed them through these holes.  Some scrap wood served as the floating bridge.

Leave a comment if you have any questions.

5 thoughts on “Paddle Ukulele

  1. Oscar Stern

    That song “Row Row Row your boat” from author AKA Integer song was pitch shifted a fourth down from the tenor ukulele version.

  2. Mom Bue

    Nice work. I like the sound. I have similar sized paddle from second hand store. It is a paddle which was turned into a decorative hanger for bags or something with three wooden dowels for hooks. I’ll cut out the dowel and try to make something similar to your ukulele. I was originally going to make it into an electric 3 or 4 stringed instrument to make use of an old 4 string pickup I had, but I like your idea better, especially with the wooden bowl as a resonator. Did you just use glue to secure the bowl?


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